Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Where Dominionist Theology Gets Off Track

I caught a bit of a sermon on You Tube this morning that caused me to pause and go, “Ahhhhhh, that's the problem!”

The 10 minute clip is from October 16, 2005 at Wasilla Assembly of God Church, where Sarah Palin is being prayed for on by a man with the last name of Muthee. He gives a quick explanation of a dominionist theology agenda and then prays for her. (Wow, this took me back to my CLB)

(Now, I don’t believe all the reports of Sarah Palin being the secret operative for the New Apostolic Reformation or any other garbage. I think she is a woman who may attend these churches and may even ascribe to their theology but it stops there. Read what Grace says here.)

What was so interesting to me was this: The man describing dominionism theology did not think that salvation alone was enough for the world! Look at what he says:

When we talk about transformation of a community we are talking about God invading 7 areas of our society…… It is where we see God’s kingdom infiltrate and influence 7 areas in our society. Number one is the spiritual aspect of our society. Namely, the church for a long time has just concentrated on that dimension.. We want people saved, we want them to go to heaven, we want them delivered and that is it. But I tell you something if all we do is to come to the church, get people saved and then they go…I don’t think much will happen in our society. So the second area whereby God wants to penetrate in our society is in the economic area……" (emphasis mine)

He then begins to talk of how he believes the Kingdom of God will come to earth. He briefly covers economic (The wealth of the gentiles are store up for the righteous, we need bankers, yada, yada, yada…), politics, (did you know that the people that split churches have the gift of politics?), education, (“if we had them {christian educators} the 10 commandments would not have been kicked out of the schools.” - as a side note….can I ask a question here? Why do Christians even want the LAW returned to the schools? Don‘t we believe in Grace now?) media, the arts and government.

I finally understood why this was and is so important to these Churches and their congregations. I finally found someone willing to admit that they don’t think the gospel - the simple gospel - will work. They are tired of doing it the hard way. They don’t see immediate fruit of nations being changed. They don’t believe the gospel is enough. One life radically changed for God is not enough. They need to add to the gospel all this other stuff so they can see it happen, now - today. After all if we wait for each person to get saved then it will take forever to see change take place in a nation.

Oh my God! This makes so much sense to me.

Instead of adding to our faith goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love - instead of that being enough - we are to add kingdom strategies of wealth building, spiritual warfare, binding and loosing, breaking open hidden gates of the kingdom, education reform, apostolic alignment and whatever else they devise will help God out in his bid for this world.

Their God is weak! He needs us!

Ok, I can hear Husband now…..”Temper it a bit, Barb” (not that he ever actually says that to me, I just hear him thinking it)

We do need politicians that are Christians and I love it when my kid has a Christian teacher in his room. I love the fact that my elected officials may be able to call on God for help in a decision and God knows, I wish for some Christian godliness in Wall Street. The difference though, I think, is this. I want people to know my God, be saved from a life of self, be delivered from the enemy’s grip and walk in freedom and Grace. Then, AS THEY GO - I want them to change the world around them. The plan is for their salvation. The result is the change in their world.

I think that men and women who ascribe to the theology of the man in the video have got their priorities backwards. Their plan is the change of society and as a result people will be saved.
Two very different approaches. Two very different outcomes if you ask me.
Unfortunately, I think if they have their way we will be back to legislated religion. And then the witch trials, the dunkings and the burning at the stakes will begin.


Linda said...

Exactly Barb. With all this other stuff we (the Christians) get to acquire power. With just the gospel, we could end up just being servants.

God forbid there be burning at the stake, we might find ourselves at the front of that line. ;)

Barb said...

Grace, and whoever heard of just being a servant...

Funny thing is they preach that to gain control over all these areas is servanthood. No wonder it took my mind so long to quit unbending from truths that my heart instinctively knew were not true.

Unknown said...

wow barb. i think this is a really good post, and you hit the nail on the head.

Sue said...

Good stuff.

The kingdom of powerlessness and love on the one hand. Or the kindom of control and manipulation on the other.

I don't think I will ever get used to the strange feeling of reading the words of Jesus and then seeing the exact opposite played out through people who are reading the words of Jesus ... does my head in.

brad/futuristguy said...

Post Gigs

As a post-liberal, I've had to process the liberal version of this. Seems to me it was: to change the evil structures of society IS to save people.

Now I see that if social change does happen, all it does is SPARE people so that perhaps they have an opportunity to find out about God and be saved and follow Jesus.

Ironic, all the false trajectories we tend to send ourselves on. The liberal gig means it is very easy to become like the world we're trying to change. The dominionist gig means the world gets to become like us. The conservative/fundamentalist gig means we isolate from the world so we don't become like them. Maybe the emergent gig is to talk about everybody else's gig so we can figure out our gig, non-gig, anti-gig, and post-gig gig. Wonder what the extreme mis-steps in missional might be, if we don’t watch out.

Umm ... could we flush all these excesses that actually leave God out of the picture, please?

And please remind me next time, not to have caffeinated coffee after 6 PM. Tis now after 1 AM. Thank you ...

Anyway, excellent post and glad for your continued break-throughs in understanding, Barb.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post Barb.

On my journey "not out but towards the door of the church" this is something I have often thought of, as I brushed shoulder with some of the NAR teaching for a few years and I really believed in a 'Kingdom Dominance' (that there would be such things as Christian societies where not necessarilly all where 'saved', but the dominant influence was the Kingdom of God) over nations etc..

Stepping back a while ago I realised just how cavalier and empirical the whole thing was - that we take dominion (read CONTROL) over entire societies.

Hmmmm...I gotta be honest....that scares me a little (a lot actually).

I'm realising that our influence and ministry to a hurting and broken world is on a one-person-at-a-time-basis, where we truly invest in relationships with those who do not yet know Christ - first and foremost to express the Love of God through out relationships with them.

I loved the notion of the five-fold gifts being parakletos/alongside ministries (i.e. the work in and alongside the Body, not ruling or Lording over the Body). I got that from Robbymac's Post-Charismatic book (a must read for all!!).

It got me thinking of the role the Church plays in society and the example the Christ left us.

He never put anyone under His yoke, taking dominion over them. He is Lord when we declare Him to be Lord. He never took charge of anyone - let lone an entire scoiety - but He loved, taught and fostered relationships. He never put Himself on an earthly throne and he neither instructed the disciples, or us, to do so.

So, can the Church be a parakletos/alongside ministry to society as a whole. To borrow from Bro Maynard, can the Church be a 'Subversive Influence' - with each believer (or disciple as we should be) minister the Life and Love of God to one person at a time, allowing His redemption to sweep from person-to-person, allowing a society to be changed from the inside out - not taking it captive, claiming dominion, taking authority over it....

Society doesn't and won't belong to us at the end of the day. Our calling is to live as disciples following in the pattern of Christ - not to be an empirical body of overlords, bringing the 'heathen' under our control.

Again, thanks for your post!

Unknown said...

just the other day as i was flipping through the TV channels, i stopped to watch a Christian TV show, which at the time was airing one of those fundraising telethons. the main guy was strongly exhorting TV watchers that (in my paraphrase) basically you can pray for God to help you in your life, but praying will only get you so far - you need to present a "sacrificial seed" to really "move God" (which, of course, should be sent to their program, so they have enough money to stay on the air). i was slightly disgusted. not to say that giving is bad, of course, but he was pretty emphatic that earnest prayer is not good enough. i don't think this TV show or the speaker believe in Dominion Theology, but i think the "you can't really trust God to do it so you have to do more on your end" idea is there.

TheFavoredSon said...

Wow. You really hit the nail on the head. I think there's this theme of God desperately needing our intellect to succeed in bringing the Kingdom. It's a pride thing. We're important. Our titles matter because they're necessary - otherwise, this thing isn't going to work.

Joel Brueseke said...

Great stuff, all the way through this post!

There's so much to say but I'll just say that I think much of the church is like this today. Trying to change society so that more people will come into the kingdom. Or in many cases, it's probably just so that they themselves can be comfortable living their religion, if only society around them would be conformed to be like them.

Anyway, as you say, it's all backwards. Change doesn't happen, and then salvation. Salvation (Life) comes to people, and the natural outflow of that is 'change.'

Siv said...

Excellent analysis. Dead on, in my opinion.

Barb said...

Thanks Travis!

Sue, It just looks like love and powerlessness will never work for them. I even wonder at times so I guess I can't blame them.

Brad, your comment needs it's own post! I loved the gig, non-gig, anti-gig and post-gig gig! No more coffee for you

Fallen, May I call you fallen? JK
We believed in it too. and it scares the bejeebies out of me. I have ordered the book, can't wait to read it.

I don't know what these people really think of Jesus. If I ever get to talk to another one of them, I plan on asking them.

Travis, yet another example. And don't get me started on the money stuff. Some days I wonder if that is really what this is all about.

Son, thanks. We were actually told the things that you stated. Without titles - people would not know how to find the leaders. sigh

Joel, thanks you are so right.

Siv, thanks

Sarah said...

Barb, thanks for posting! I really liked Brad's insights too!